One of the top male jazz singers to emerge in the 1990s, Brooklyn-born and Harlem-based Allan Harris is an award-winning vocalist who has been compared to Nat King Cole, and whose talents also include guitarist, songwriter, actor, and producer. His albums cover a broad stylistic range, while also drawing strongly from the jazz tradition. Harris first recorded for his own Love Productions Records label and went on to record two sets for Mons: It's a Wonderful World, a sextet date with Ray Brown, Jeff Hamilton, Benny Green, Mark Whitfield, and Claudio Roditi; and Here Comes Allan Harris and the Metropole Orchestra, an ambitious effort on which he was backed by the Netherlands' massive 54-piece ensemble. In 2001, Harris paid tribute to longtime Duke Ellington scribe Billy Strayhorn with Love Came: The Songs of Strayhorn.
Harris moved away from jazz standards with 2006's Cross That River, a concept album about the African-American experience in the American West of the 1860s. In 2007, Harris released Long Live the King, a live recording from the Kennedy Center in tribute to Nat King Cole. Two years later he issued a 2009 holiday-season homage to Cole, Dedicated to You: Allan Harris Sings a Nat King Cole Christmas. Also arriving that year was Cry of the Thunderbird, a follow-up to Cross That River. In 2011, Harris released the R&B-infused Open Up Your Mind, while 2014's Convergence, a tribute to Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, was recorded with pianist Takana Miyamoto. One year later, Harris took home the Down Beat Critic's Poll Award for Rising Star Jazz Vocalist. Also in 2015, he released the studio album Black Bar Jukebox, which featured a mix of standards, originals, and modern pop covers. Arriving in 2016, the follow-up Nobody's Gonna Love You Better: Black Bar Jukebox Redux spanned wide stylistic territory from vocal jazz, R&B, blues, and Brazilian to covers of rock classics by Jimi Hendrix and Steely Dan, while also including a retooled track from Cross That River among its four Harris originals. ~ Scott Yanow